Feb 5, 2014; Spokane, WA, USA; Portland Pilots forward Volodymyr Gerun (52) dribbles the ball around Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Drew Barham (43) during the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
I know I didn’t get a post up last week and I apologize for that but my grandfather passed away so my wife and I drove up to Brookings, SD where I was able to remember, and celebrate a truly great man with my family. My grandfather was part of the South Dakota State University community for many years and was a big Jackrabbits fan, so in honor of him, here’s a highlight video of one of my favorite mid-major ballers of the past 10 years: Nate Wolters
Gunnin’ for that Podium
Before I get into the basketball stuff, I need to give some love to the Portland runners. The Pilot XC team finished 3rd in last weekend’s NCAA nationals held in Terre Haute, Indiana. Portland’s previous top finish was 7th which they achieved 3 times (2001, 2008, 2014). Portland is no stranger to the national meet however, managing to finish in the top 14 for the past eight years, which when you really think about it is a crazy feat. Portland’s runners were Scott Fauble (12th, All-American), Reid Buchanan (28th, All-American), Timo Goehler (44th), Danny Martinez (59th), and William Kincaid (70th).
Nov 22, 2014; Terre Haute, IN, USA; General view of the mens race in the 2014 NCAA cross country championships at Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
An added bonus was that neither of the two teams ahead of Portland in the team standings had a duck as a mascot. I’ve always had the opinion that since Prefontaine, that team in Eugene has been the gold standard in distance running. The Pilot runners have always run in the immense shadow of Oregon. In my mind Oregon has always been Ivan Drago with all their running in labs and Portland has been Rocky running in the snow, carrying huge logs around on their backs. “I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if I can, and you can change, everybody can change!”
On the women’s side of things senior Tansey Lystand added to the historic day for Portland finishing 15th overall, becoming the top ever finisher for the Pilots en route to earning All-American honors.
Coming into this season, Portland was supposed to be led by Kevin and Thomas with Alec and Bryce playing complimentary roles. That’s at least what I thought would happen. Some aspects of what we thought we knew has come to pass; other aspects of who we thought this team was have made me scratch my head. Kevin has been fantastic averaging 28.7 pts and more importantly committing only one turnover thus far. Alec has been equally effective scoring 13 a game and already racking up 10 steals. Bryce has been solid despite not shooting the ball all that well, but the two biggest surprises, one pleasant, the other not so much, are Voldy Gerun and Thomas van der Mars respectively. Voldy has been absolutely fantastic scoring 14.3 pts, shooting 69% from the field and grabbing 9 rebounds a game. He’s already put up a double-double, and a 21 point game. Thomas has only played 53 minutes and he just hasn’t found a rhythm offensively. He has shot an uncharacteristically low 36% and he has only attempted 3 free throws through three games. The season is extremely early still, and he has plenty of time to turn things around, but if Portland wants to achieve the success they believe they can, he’ll have to find his groove and find it quickly.
Just a few stats for you to chew on:
- Portland is shooting a better percentage from 3 (44.4%) than from 2 (41.8) over the past 2 games
- Alec Wintering is 7-9 from 3 point range
- Thomas van der Mars is 6th on the team in minutes played
Portland next heads to Nashville to take part in the inaugural Challenge in the Music City where they will take on Murray State, Drake, and Valparaiso. All three teams should be at least somewhat familiar to college basketball fans. Portland enters the challenge as the lone unbeaten but take it with a grain of salt due to the opponent. The Racers of Murray State come in with two wins and two losses to Houston at home and at Xavier. In the second game of the challenge, Portland takes on Drake, who out of the four teams is starting from the bottom. The Bulldogs should be getting seniors Gary Ricks Jr and Karl Madison back after being suspended 3 games. Drake’s lone win came against the fighting palindromes of IUPUI. Finally Portland will conclude the three game tilt facing off against the iconic Bryce Drew and his band of crusaders of Valparaiso. The advanced stats of kenpom.com predict Portland dropping a close one to Murray State, before taking care of Drake and Valpo in the final two games. Depth will play a huge role in the games, and it will be interesting to see how the coaches of each team manages minutes in this three games in three days format.
Shameless Self Promotion
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